Heterogeneity in Demographic Change: The Educational Gradient of New Family Behaviors in Europe and the United States

Karel Neels, University of Antwerp

Second Demographic Transition theory posits that shifts in values have led to the postponement of marriage and childbearing, increases in cohabitation and increases in childbearing within cohabitation. It is not clear, however, whether all of these behaviors are practiced equally by all strata of society. We employ harmonized union and reproductive histories from the United States and 14 countries in Europe to examine how family formation behaviors are practiced by different educational groups for cohorts of women born between 1930 and 1979. Descriptive analyses focusing on the educational gradient in ever practicing new family behaviors are complemented with hazard models that highlight the educational gradient in the timing of events. Our findings indicate that the educational gradient varies markedly across family behaviors, indicating that the motives to practice these behaviors are more diverse than suggested by the theory of the second demographic transition.

  See paper

Presented in Session 152: Fertility Change Over Space and Time in Developed Countries